Rumble on the Roads
JUST like everybody seemed to have a picture of themselves taken with the late iconic music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, the great man also seemed to have something to say to anyone he came across – about anything.
His musical prowess aside, Mtukudzi was also a brilliant observer of everyday life, a social commentator par-excellence.
Over the past decade I was one of those privileged to have met and spoke at length with Mtukudzi, and of course, we spoke about, take a guess…cars!
It’s a pity that a deal we tried to strike for him with a local dealership for a luxury ride did not materialize.
It fell through because I suspect the dealership did not see the value that would have been brought to their brand by the legendary musician.
I called him “Mukoma Tuku”. He called me “Andy”. Only family members and close friends refer to me that way, so when Tuku did, I of course felt a sense of closeness to the dearly departed world-famous Afro-jazz artiste.
So we warmed up to each other instantly whilst discussing cars and business: a humble, easy-going gentle giant, full of words of wisdom and a ready wit. Go well, Mukoma Tuku!
Like I was trying to do with Tuku few years back, celebrity endorsements are a sustainable option for brands to increase awareness, build credibility and promote products. According to Marketwatch reports, a simple announcement from a brand signing a celebrity or famous athlete can cause stock prices to rise slightly and increase sales by 4% on average. It becomes a challenge when brands then decide to squeeze a sale from a celebrity instead of an outright endorsement. What would a celebrity endorse between a Land Rover Discovery and a Land Cruiser Prado?
A bout between Land Rover Discovery and Land Cruiser Toyota Prado is likely to produce no clear winner. The judges would most likely deem it a draw except if they are brand loyalists. It is not easy to separate these two warriors.
When you look at the all new Land Rover Discovery, you are tempted to conclude that it has gone a bit soft from the new shape. Do not be fooled.
It is now just lighter. Also safer and better equipped. It is now less square and that has been a setback with Disco lovers. The new shape takes getting used to. It doesn’t look rugged anymore. Nevertheless, do not let its looks deceive you. It is the most capable Discovery ever made.
Land Rover is faced with a near mission impossible challenge with this new Disco. How does it fill in for the legendary Defender as the brand’s most capable offering? It must be able to go places and do things a Range Rover simply can’t.
Prado has gone through massive makeover, with a new look, updated interior and added equipment. It has been modernized. It does not have thingamajigs like the Land Rover. Discovery has attempted a sleeker, more urban design this time around, but in the process it lost its boxy heritage, and the results are, well, a little confusing. Prado retains its muscular boxed shape. This is appealing to off-roaders and majority of consumers looking for a muscular looking SUV.
Prado’s interior design has acquired a big facelift. It has a new centre stack and media interface and a new steering wheel.
The Discovery passenger and cargocarrying abilities are first rate. The official dimensions are 4970mm long, 1846mm high and 2220mm wide. Prado knocks that out with good storage options on offer: you will find more than one cup holder to suffice – in fact, there are cupholders in the first, second and third rows, and holsters for bottles in all four doors.
Prado is a seven-seater. The measurement with seven seats in use is 120L. It is small by class standards. If you need more boot space, you could consider adding roof racks to the rails. The electronic system for hoisting third row seats is a Prado is daft compared to the Disco. It takes more than 10 seconds to raise or lower completely, and like most of Prado’s electronics, the controller beeps every time you use it. That can be really annoying. One nice counterpoint is a 220-volt power point in the boot in high-spec models.
When using the 8.0-inch media system in the Prado you have to be stationary for safety reasons but what if it’s your wife or child using it and you are concentrating with driving? Stopping can be frustrating. It’s a fail. You can use the Disco one whilst on the go.
Prado runs a permanent four-wheel drive (4WD or 4×4) set-up with 4H and 4L modes – there’s no 4×2 mode. Competition does not.
My biggest annoyance with the Prado is its brake pedal feel. While the response from the stoppers is good, the squelchy feel of the pedal and the fingernails-on-a-blackboard screechiness as you apply pressure is frustrating. The body of the Prado can pitch forward when you apply the brakes, too. The Disco is stable when you brake.
Land Rover knows that the overwhelming majority of its customers are unlikely to tackle anything more challenging than a suburban speed bump, and so they needed to soften its image and improve its road manners, without sacrificing capability.
It’s a hell of a job, keeping the purists happy. But on first impressions, this new Disco should just about pull it off. Comfortable on the road, and capable of tackling anything its owners are likely to throw at it off it. Be prepared to spend up if you want a well-optioned one, though.
Land Rover Discovery is moresmooth and steady than the Prado. The power delivery of the bigger four-cylinder diesel, which propels the two-ton-plus Disco does so with surprising ease. It’s not fast, but it never feels underwhelming.
The Discovery can seat up to seven people, depending on its configuration. SE and HSE trims have five seats in two rows and are available with an optional third row that increases seating capacity to seven. HSE Luxury models come standard with the third row. Other standard features in the base SE trim include leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats, while upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a power-adjustable steering wheel are optional.
The Disco has a plush ride over rough pavement and stays composed through turns. There’s also little lean when going around corners. Unlike many luxury SUVs, the Discovery can easily keep going when you leave the pavement. Thanks to standard four-wheel drive, hill-descent control, and the Terrain Response system, this SUV can tackle even the toughest of trails.
The Disco does has blameless off-road ability. It has plenty of power. It handles well. The cabin looks great and uses premium materials throughout. The seats are spacious, and the tech features are user-friendly. The Disco even has an adult-friendly third row of seats, which is not common in the class.
If you are after comfort only then the Volvo XC90 provides one of the most stylish, upscale cabins available in a class full of luxurious SUVs. The Volvo offers plenty of standard and available features, some of which you can’t get in the Discovery, like Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, the XC90’s seats might be the most comfortable in the class. The XC90 also has a lower starting price than the Discovery. The Volvo is a better choice for comfort and value, but it can’t match the Disco or Prado’s adventure-ready competences.